In the next installment of my adventure through the High-A West, I shift my focus to the Vancouver Canadians, the affiliate for the Toronto Blue Jays. The Canadians currently sit in 4th place with a 54-62 record, 12.5 games out of first place as of September 16. While the team results have not been ideal, the development of the players is of greater importance at the lower levels. The Blue Jays have plenty of young talent that has come through their system in recent years, and there is more on the way. The Canadians have one of the best teenage sluggers in the minor leagues, and a handful of intriguing pitching prospects, at varying stages of their development. The continued success of developing young talent will be paramount for the organization, particularly in the American League East. Without further ado, here are some of the dynasty prospects you need to know.
Orelvis Martinez, SS
The 19-year old received the highest signing bonus ($3.51 million) in the 2018 international class and has backed it up so far. The 6-foot-1, 190 pound Martinez was already a top 100 prospect entering the season, and his stock continues to rise. The rapid development of his hit tool, combined with already tapping into his plus raw power, is promising at his age. The righty has decreased his K% since being promoted from Low-A.
Defensively, he’s still capable of playing shortstop but projects better as a third baseman once his frame fills out. Martinez should crack some top 50 lists this offseason, with room to continue climbing if the growth carries into 2022. He profiles as a potential four-category standout on the left side of the infield for years to come.
Orelvis Martinez unloaded on his Low-A leading 19th HR last night.
— Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty) July 31, 2021
Adam Kloffenstein, RHP
The 6-foot-5, 245-pounder certainly brings a workhorse frame to the table. The righty backs it up with a deep arsenal, highlighted by a plus fastball, plus sinker, and above-average slider. Kloffenstein is also working on his curveball and changeup, giving him the potential for a five-pitch mix. The development of his control and command will be the key to reaching his potential.
The 21-year old has not had the level of success statistically that his profile would suggest, but there are too many positive possibilities to disregard him moving forward. The organization has a lot of talent on the offensive side of the ball. They will need some of their pitching prospects to step up and compliment the potent offense. Kloffenstein remains a solid pitching prospect and could be a cheap target for those who understand prospect development does not always unfold smoothly.
After giving up a homer and two doubles to start the night, Blue Jays Adam Kloffenstein settled in and is up to 4 strikeouts through 2 innings pic.twitter.com/EYcofbDAqB
— Trevor Hooth (@HoothTrevor) June 25, 2021
Sem Robberse, RHP
Listed at 6-foot-1, 160 pounds, the 19-year old righty has emerged onto the scene in 2021 and elevated himself into one of the more intriguing arms in the system. Robberse was an international signing from the 2019 class. His $125,000 signing bonus suggests he is already a relative bargain for the organization. At present, his best pitch is his curveball, but his fastball, slider, and changeup all show potential to develop into good pitches. It is fair to expect continued growth considering his relative youth.
The teenager had little trouble handling Low-A hitters to begin his campaign but has understandably had less success against more advanced competition. Big picture, anytime a teenage pitcher starts making noise in full-season ball, it is worth noting. Robberse will likely begin 2022 with the Canadians again before presumably making his debut in Double-A by mid-season at age 20.
Finally got a chance to watch a Sem Robberse outing and came away impressed.
92-94 with some arm side run. Showed two distinctive breaking balls with a low 80s CB and mid/high 80s SL that both created S/M. 90 pitches over a career-high 7 IP, 75% strikes. #BlueJays pic.twitter.com/hKS94KwRlc
— Ian Smith (@FlaSmitty) July 31, 2021
CJ Van Eyk, RHP
The 6-foot-1, 198-pound righty was selected 42nd overall out of Florida State in the 2020 MLB Draft. Van Eyk has a four-pitch mix, highlighted by a plus curveball, above-average slider, and changeup, that both show potential for more. His fastball projects as average with below-average command, leaving open the possibility he will end up in a reliever role.
The 22-year old has displayed flashes of brilliance mixed in with bouts of inconsistency. His FIP is over a run lower than his ERA, so Van Eyk has pitched better than the stats indicate. If he can improve his command and become more consistent with his fastball, he has the potential to become a high-end mid-rotation starter. Considering the early draft investment, they have every intention of developing him as a starter.
Blue Jays 2020 2nd rounder CJ Van Eyk struck out 8 last night. Fastball was 93-95 on the stadium gun, tons of movement. Here are all 8 punch outs pic.twitter.com/2A4P4D4FCR
— Trevor Hooth (@HoothTrevor) June 24, 2021
Keep an eye on
Sebastian Espino – Originally signed by the Mets out of the Dominican Republic during the 2016 international signing period. Listed at 6-foot-2, 176 pounds, the righty has shown signs of tapping into more power with a career-high ISO before hitting the injured list. From a statistical standpoint, there is not anything in his profile that screams fantasy upside. But improvements, as he matures, are worth monitoring since Espino is a relatively young middle infielder.
Spencer Horwitz – Just promoted to AA New Hampshire, the 23-year old led the team in OPS while displaying a skill set that should play up in OBP leagues. The lefty has yet to show the power expected for a first-base prospect, but his hit tool is showing promising signs. If he can carry a similar game into next season and add more pop, it would begin to turn some heads.
Rafael Lantigua – A switch-hitting middle infielder who is displaying some intriguing skills. Lantigua is a difficult player to evaluate when factoring in his age vs. level and his diminutive size. He has noticeably increased his BB% since 2019 while tapping into more power and stealing bases. He is worth monitoring in case his skill set translates to the higher levels.